Visited Millainen ilmastomenu? panel at the Parliament House, Helsinki. The event was organized by the Ilmastomenu group and the panel led by Pietari Kylmälä. Anna Kontula was the star of the event. Her arguments reminded me that questions about sustainable food production are not about our relationship with an abstract entity called nature – Sustainable food production is a series of practical decisions, trough which the rich decide who (on our limited planet) have the right to continue living.
For awhile I thought that sassy artists & web designers working for sassy festivals and galleries were into brutalist, hard to use web pages because they want to challenge their audiences (See: brutalistwebsites.com ). It seemed there was a design movement which opposed the production of passive audiences. But I’ve now understood that these styles are not rebellious, they are compliant: Artists and organizations have messy web pages only because they rely on social medias. They can afford complicated, even artistic sites – Because they reach their audiences primarily through facebook events.
I’ve been thinking about style and ecology during the past weeks. I’m shocked by the amount of usable stuff I can find from the streets (clothing, electronics, tools and furniture etc.) and the amount of plastic they use in shops (orange juice is sold in solid plastic cans, which are as sturdy as flower watering pots I use in Finland ). In Finland I can imagine having an ecological impact by recycling and wearing second hand clothes. In NYC I understand that my environmentally conscious decisions do not have any impact.
In this city, ecologically steered design and arts, are reduced into mere fashion statements. Ecological orientation serves as a class signifier.
How to formulate this critical observation into a style and a movement? I currently think the most equalitarian and ecological style is to have NO-STYLE. Pickup, wear and use anything you find from the streets. When you see a person who is wearing ecobrands: Inform them that they are misguided (possibly by vomiting, like one of my favorite artists Kristofer Paetau during the artforum incident in 2005). The only sustainable way forward is to have NO-STYLE. To go forward we need to consume toxic stuff, learn plastic crafts and listen to algorithmically generated playlists on youtube. Pietari suggested the hashtag #deathhack for these efforts. More reading on class, looks and hiding your class with looks: So You Think You’ve Got Class? (2017) Charlotte Shane (Also related: Sebago docksides rant).
I’ve made a functional and novel sound pedal. The circuit is based on the Dwarfcraft Great Destroyer but I made some mistakes in the assembly, which cause the circuit to behave oddly. It doesn’t work like a bitcrusher, which the DGD is supposed to be. It self-oscillates and creates tunes which are affected by the level of the volume input and potentiometers, it also plays the radio and works like a distortion. A very interesting device (powered with a 9v battery / pedal power supply). As I understand the CD4049 (Buffered) is not grounded and I think the weird behaviour is caused by the signal & voltage working their way to the ground, through the potentiometers. It works great with drums, and creates changing melodic synth and bass lines which follow the rhythm. I added a LM386 amplifier (as an integrated circuit) to the effect to make it louder (The LM386 can also be powered independently so that it acts as a “clean” boost).
The circuit is housed in a Civil Defense V 750 (Model No. 5B) Dosimeter Model No. 5 Charger (C2-2). Serial No. 0005296. Which has been manufactured by the Industrial Electronic Hardware Corp. in New York City (Brooklyn!). The device was intended to reset radiation dosimeter values. If I understand it correctly these kinds of devices were available in fallout shelters during the cold war era in the city. This particular device was manufactured ca. 1962. I repurposed the potentiometer (10k) of the V 750 and used it controls the LM386 output. I’m currently waiting for potentiometer knobs and I’ll make a video of the device after I receive them. I call it the Civil Defence Crusher. It goes well with the Berlin Wall Distortion. Together they form the Sound of Cold War Infra custom guitar pedal series (Ore.e Ref.).
Learned about Shaun Leonardo’s I Can’t Breathe workshops (a 2017 article on Hyperallergic by Seph Rodney). Leonardo’s workshops are in stark contrast to the Police Horse Care & Control workshops we organised with Pietari. Leonardo is teaching people how to survive chokeholds – We are teaching audiences what it feels like to support the weight of a police officer with your body and to have your body supported by theirs in exchange.
Finnish Cultural Institute in New York published my artist profile on their website.
An artist in Helsinki who’s active on twitter has been writing a critical commentary of art-life, culture institutions and exhibitions for a half a year now. The blog is called Hampaat (teeth) and it’s an interesting albeit a tad cynical source for local art-news and art-thought. The most recent post is called YOUR COLLEAGUES ARE THE PROBLEM. The text feels like it’s very critical towards someone but that person is not identified… Which makes me paranoid (am I part of the problem? *laughs nervously*). The author identifies the figure of the “reputation avatar” (derived from the work of Gloria Origgi, a podcast about her book online) and tries to pinpoint moments were artists work primarily to maintain their reputation. I often engage with work to merely to maintain my reputation (but I don’t think it’s a bad thing).
The criticism of art mirroring our times (as a justification for the lack of critical thought and practice in art) is something I agree with. Elaborate media-artworks which I’ve seen recently (most of which are related to AIs) should be read as blatant celebration of media technology, innovation and capitalism (and not it’s critique). A hammer cannot be critical of a hammer #ॐ. The artist status should not be used as an excuse from ethical concerns: When artist use AIs they have the opportunity to be just as unethical as the übers and googles of the world.
The author is also critical of the recent trend of “melding art with science” and claims that “the situation of art as a site of knowledge is rotten at the core”. I agree to an extent. Artist are sometimes portrayed more pure hearted then they are. There seems to be consensus that artist would use science for the good of people if only given the chance. Which is not true – Artist are not healers. The text also makes me ask that why would anyone want to learn about Barad from an artist who reads Barad (if they can learn from Barad herself)? And to ask that in what circumstances is learning from an artist about Barad (instead of Barad herself) more efficient/better/smarter?
I’ve liked the THREE QUESTIONS TO PEOPLE DOING EXHIBITIONS UNDER CAPITALISM best so far.
Pietari shared a gruesome story from Amsterdam Dutch rewilding experiment sparks backlash as thousands of animals starve. A case-study for understanding the intersections of cross species solidarity and post-humanistic theory.
Horse & Performance III course for the University of Arts Helsinki (Teak) went well. We worked with 10 students and two horses, learning how to care for animals and each others. Students gained elementary skills in reading design trough poststructuralist lenses and how to think with horses. The course lasted for five days. Yesterday students presented their demo-exercises for the group and I learned a lot about horses. Pietari and I concluded the evening by celebrating the course as the pinnacle of posthumanistic artist education.